The Innate Healer (and what to do when you cannot help)

I shivered in the cold, forced air of the dim hospital room and pulled my shawl tighter around my shoulders.  I listened to the ominous drone of the heart monitor.  He finally fell asleep.  I watched my child, now a man, lay there in the hospital bed with the flimsy covers upon his slight frame, barely covering his tattooed arms.  His dark hair pressed to the side of his face.  His brow still furrowed from pain.  My baby.  I pulled the covers up around him a bit more and held my breath so not to let the pressing tears release.  Breathe.

38682912_2310870348928415_7550584954845921280_o

I am considered an expert in my field.  I can tell you about hundreds of local plants, their medicinal properties, growing conditions, contraindications, their uses, how to prepare them, and how to heal nearly every ailment there is.  I am an herbalist, a medicine woman, a plant girl, a lover of nature, a great believer in the original medicine, and a skeptic of modern medicine.  And yet, all the herbal knowledge in the world could not help me as I stood on that cold tile floor.

“Help me, Mom!” he screamed over the phone before I got there.  He went in to the emergency room for a fever and back pain and the hospital gave him a spinal tap.  They missed.  Three times.  Spinal fluid pooled into his lower back and created more pain than my child could handle without madness.  But he was in the hospital now, so it was too late, I could not help.  Except to pull the blankets over his arms to cover the goosebumps.  To kiss his head.

20190114_125833

A few weeks later- last weekend- I stood by the bedside of my grandmother, whose tall, thin frame was dwarfed by the hospital bed and flimsy covers.  The drone of the heart monitor and the bustling of nurses outside the door filled the large, cool space.  My beloved grandma had fallen and just had a partial hip replacement.  Again, I could do nothing but watch her sleep.  My children came.  They gathered in the room and talked wildly, trying to catch up on events since the last time they had seen each other.  My new granddaughter was passed around.  Smiles and laughter filled the space as grandma would slowly open her eyes and look around and grin.  So much life that came from her.

IMG_20190125_142150_436

I am a healer.  We are all healers, especially women.  Any of us would take care of an injured frog, or a stranger, or try to bring life back into someone with warm soup or a hug.  Anxiety fills our chest as we feel the pain of others, see their worries, the punched feeling in the stomach when we know we can do nothing.  That is why so many of us become healers.  We have to do something. 

I have learned that the only thing I can do in cases when no one asks for my help, or I simply cannot help, is to release the outcome.  They might die.  They might not be able to change their life.  They may still have lessons to learn.  They are choosing other options.  They are their own decision makers.  They might be paralyzed.  They might…oh the possibilities of tragedy are endless.  And there we are… trying to save the world.  Sometimes we just cannot help.  Once you can release the outcome, you can then breathe and be there to give love and support or to pull the covers up over chilled arms.  We must release what we cannot control or it will control us.  Give it back to the powers that be.  We can only help ourselves and do what we can for others.

me and dad 2

My husband looked so pale.  A colorless sheen crossed his face as he came out of surgery a few days ago.  (It’s been quite a month, y’all.)  I had released all outcomes.  Whatever happened, happened.  But here he was, smiling dopily from the morphine drip, and a long overdue hernia surgery complete.  At home, I help him in any way I can.  He asks me for help.  I can help him.  I give him my own antibiotics and pain medicines along with his prescribed pain pills.  I make him teas for his digestion and tend to his wounds and bruises.  I am so much better when I feel like I can do something.

Sometimes we can help, sometimes we cannot.  My neighbor called me after badly spraining her ankle yesterday.  I took over some muscle healer and she was at the dog park by the afternoon.

IMG_20190120_165356_152

I feel like it is a very good idea to have some basic knowledge of herbal medicine.  Everyone should know what herbs heal wounds, fight infections, handle pain, and heal.  I currently have two books on this subject on Amazon.  The Herbalist Will See You Now; Your Complete Training Guide to Becoming and Working as an Herbalist and The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; the Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Herbal Pharmacy.

They may just give you one more outlet in which you can help yourself and others.

 

The Good Life Map

Isn’t life interesting?  How it changes and ebbs and flows from one experience to another?  Always opening doors to dreams and lessons and then moving us through to the next bend.  It all can be breathtakingly beautiful in its innate simplicity and flow.

I went for a job interview yesterday.  I got it, but realized that I really do not want to go back to working the same old things I have done off and on since I was sixteen.  I gave my apothecary to my daughter, Shyanne.  Yes, I am tired of expensive printers, and labels, and sales taxes, and such but I gave it to her because I can think of no better gift to give her than a career and a set business.

“I don’t know what I can do.  I need to do something!” I mentioned to a friend over coffee about jobs.  “You can always teach,” was her reply.

I had said (oh, how many times have I said things and then changed my mind?!) that I didn’t want to teach anymore.  Why?  Because my classes are three months long!  It then occurred to me that I made that up, I can change it!  Ha!  We forget our own power of decision.  I will be teaching a six week Certified Herbalist Course.  I’ll start each week with tea, a bit of ceremony and camaraderie.  They will learn all the important things they need.  Ditch the text book.  Teach them real herbalism.  Make it less expensive so it can help more people.  And it helps me.

We often forget the power of decisions.  We can manifest anything we wish, but we are also at the mercy of fate.  So, make simple changes to make your life better, and breathe.  Your gifts are your map to your good life.

How to Heal Wounds; the Wise Farmgirl’s Pharmacy

Booboo is our oldest cat in the house right now.  He is in his second generation of kids.  He waits excitedly by the door if Maryjane arrives.  When Booboo was a kitten, our son Andrew trained him to run to his room if he played Bob Marley.  Booboo walked around sporting a tiny Jamaican hat with fake dreadlocks.  This kitty is beloved.  Apparently not so much to our young cat.

Chuck wants to be king, apparently.  Who can really understand cats?  I wonder why they are my favorite animals sometimes with all their ferocity and claws.  Or teeth, in this case.

20180815_145007_Burst01_resized

The night before last, we turned out the light and Booboo jumped on the bed and curled up between us as always.  We noticed a horrible smell and he was suckling madly in the dark.  We turned on the lights and noticed that he had two very defined bite marks on his hip.  Deep, about a quarter inch, and oozing with puss and infection.

These are the times I am grateful to be an herbalist.  Not much throws me.  I grabbed the wound healer, and using a dropper, applied it into the wounds.

Yesterday morning the puss was gone but the smell was there and I could see the muscle tissue in his leg.  (Chuck is grounded, by the way, and may very well become the shop cat at our new store!)  I went out to the garden and harvested calendula, yarrow, echinacea, and comfrey.  Calendula, echinacea, and yarrow are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and are natural blood cleansers and antibiotics.  Comfrey could honest to god heal the world.  It binds tissues and bones and heals quickly.  I placed these into a wide mouth pint jar with 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt and poured boiling water over the tea.  That sat and brewed for about an hour.  I left a little room to add cooler water to make it temperate.  Once it was cool, it was ready.

20180815_132853_resized

Booboo was certainly a good sport and let me squeeze the fomentation into the wounds using a flat cotton pad.  I added the wound healer again.  The wound healer was used that morning as well.  A repeat application of tea and wound healer was given again last night.  This morning it looks clean and on the mend.  He will get the same treatment today and I have no doubt that by tomorrow morning he will be nearly healed.

20180816_072526_resized

It is always wise to have herbs on hand to make fomentations (a tea you put on topically) or infusions (a tea you take internally for medicinal purposes), but a good wound healer can save the day.  We have used it when Doug cut his finger down to the bone with a hatchet.  We have used it for burns from the wood cook stove.  We have used it for every cut or wound.  It replaces stitches, kills infection, and helps the body heal itself quickly.  It also helps with pain.

20180816_072855_resized

First start with a base.  This is an extract.  In a pint jar, fill 20% with herbs like the ones listed above and top with vodka.  Leave in the window for two weeks.  Pour some of the finished extract into a half-pint jar, about 1/4 full.  Fill the jar with filtered water.  This is your diluted base for wound healer.  (Believe me, you need to cut it.)  In a 4 ounce jelly jar, combine 1 part finished, diluted base and 1 part aloe vera gel.  (Please make sure it is actually aloe vera gel!  You’d be surprised what they put in cheap aloe vera.  You should opt for the bottle that is nearly 100% aloe vera gel with a small percentage of preservative.  Otherwise it will rot too quickly.)  I like to add about 10 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender.

There you go!  You are ready to take on cat bites, sunburn, cuts, boils, and battle wounds from the garden or kitchen.  This is a great addition to your homestead pharmacy!

For more recipes and to build your own homestead pharmacy, click HERE to check out my book, “The Homesteader’s Pharmacy” on Amazon.

 

Garlic; How to Use as Medicine and How to Make Infused Honey

20180117_171823Garlic is one of the most important plants.  It is easy to grow, easy to find, and easy to use.  The garlic bulb is unassuming but let us not forget its amazing qualities.

Garlic is still one of our most important antibiotics in the fight against the scariest of diseases being spread in our unstable hospital system, Sepsis and MRSA.  As each year’s viruses become more and more fierce and as cancer rates skyrocket due to foods and medicines and pollutants and stress, we can look to this humble clove of garlic to help us.  Do not underestimate it.  It is hundreds of times more potent than any marketed antibiotic or blood cleanser.

Garlic is safe for all animals as well, making it an important antibiotic.  It is a myth that cats and dogs cannot consume garlic.  We have used garlic successfully for many, many years in our work to help heal hundreds of animals.

Garlic is effective against the common cold and helps clear the blood of toxins.  It is effective in an extract form (though rather strong), an infused honey (recipe to follow), in a glycerite for small animals and children, and is extremely beneficial in food.

A few simple tools make life easier in the kitchen.

20180117_171925

 

The garlic peeler is a small, rough mat, much like what we use to open jars with.  Roll the cloves in the peeler with your palm and they pop out without the skins!

20180117_172127

Likewise, a garlic press saves time chopping and opens up the garlic so that more of the properties can be released.

As in all medicines, some heating is quite beneficial but even if you cook the garlic for some time, its properties simply transfer to the base, stock, or sauce.  You will still get the medicine.

Use plenty of garlic in your sauces, soups, and bases for recipes.  Grow a patch of garlic in the yard.  You can start them in April and harvest this fall.  Simply buy a bulb of organic garlic from the store, separate the cloves, and plant them two inches apart.  Cover with a little straw.

Garlic is anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-yeast, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-cancer.  It cleanses the blood of bad cells, of toxins, and treats upper respiratory infections quickly.  It will help prevent the flu and is even more amazing when added to other similar propertied herbs, like onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, echinacea, juniper berries, oregon grape root, and rose hips.

Infused Cold and Flu Honey

In a saucepan combine 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon each rosemary, sage, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.  Add a pinch of hot pepper if you like.  Cover with 1 cup or so of honey.  Heat on medium-low, swirling contents often, for 20 minutes.  Strain.  Add a smidgen of whiskey if desired to make syrup.  Or just use in tea.  Store in a canning jar.  It’s quite tasty and stays good forever.  Take as much as you need to fight a cold!  Or use daily by teaspoon or in tea.

Take care of yourselves out there, Folks!

Trusting Intuition and Plant Medicines

20171211_143558

My kitten was very sick.  Five months ago I picked Merlin and his brother up at the feed mill where they had been found the eve before.  They were not even a day old yet and their mother was gone.  Merlin survived on dropper-fulls of milk delivered every two hours.  He spent his first six weeks, first in my bra, then in my apron top.  He went everywhere with us because of his feedings.  He is a feisty, furry, sweet little boy and I naturally have a very strong attachment to him.

merlin

Last week I noticed that when he ran (which he seems to always be doing) streams of diarrhea were following him.  It wouldn’t stop.  He also has chronic allergies.  I had cancelled his appointment to get neutered at the “in-and-out-neuter clinic because they wouldn’t listen to me that they would have to be alert to his breathing.

I haven’t been to a vet in over a decade.  Same with the doctor.  I make my own medicines with 100% success and my full faith is in these plants.  If they don’t need to be spayed/neutered or humanely euthanized at the end of life, I don’t take them.  I know as well as I know my name what herbs do what.  I had been faithfully giving Merlin the antibiotic and the super immunity allergy medicine and these keep his sniffles in check.  He had two days worth of tummy trouble medicine that I make specifically for cats (chamomile, mint, mullein, lemon balm).  But fear makes us doubt.  It makes us panic.  And I made an appointment with the vet.

Doug recalled his trip with Merlin and as I read the line by line charges I realized the vet is no different than it was twenty years ago when I was a vet tech.  God love them but most vets (and doctors) are trained on a script, a pharmaceutical drug, and a bill.  She did a fecal sample.  I knew he didn’t have parasites because he had already taken my anti-parasite.  He didn’t but she de-wormed him anyway.  With a chemical.  That made him so bad that night that diarrhea was flying everywhere in large puddles as he screamed and literally climbed the walls.  Then they sold him some “special” food (I cannot believe after all this time they are still pushing that Science Diet stuff as healthy).  Tried to push vaccinations on him (even though he was clearly not feeling well).  Over a hundred dollars later we had a diagnoses.  Diarrhea.

I was furious that my Merlin was worse.  I was furious that I had not trusted my instincts, my intuition, my plants.  The next day, his third day of tummy medicine that I make, he was a hundred percent well.  One more dose and we would have had it.

How many times did I panic when the kids were little (before I was an herbalist) and rush Andy to the emergency room for pink eye (in 2 hours it is better with my recipe), or Shyanne with a headache (feverfew and willow), or Emily with seborrhea dermatitis (she was allergic to her earrings)?

20171215_074653

In our household and with thousands of clients over the years and students’ medicines made and the people they help and so forth, I have seen plants heal everything.  I beseech you to learn herbal medicines for your homestead.  I have saved my own flock of chickens, helped relieve pain in goats, de-wormed sheep, healed cats, saved dogs, and kept our family healthy and well.  The plants were made for this!

They are burying one of my son’s friends this week.  Oxycodone.

I have classes, I have an online store and shop, others across the world have the same.  Seek out wisdom in library books, with teachers, or if you have no desire to turn your basement into a full apothecary, find a real herbalist.  Not a health food store.  A working, breathing, passionate herbalist.

http://whitewolfherbs.com

Maybe 2018 is the year we all go back to the plants.

(By the way, Merlin is doing great!)

 

 

Three Autumn Medicinal Herbs to Harvest Now

20170929_113435This year I was able to harvest over thirty different medicinal herbs from my gardens.  There are three of them right now that would serve you well for the winter if you can find them, and if not, plant some next year!

20170929_114035The first one is Burdock.  There are three kinds of docks; yellow dock that grows in the marshes and on the sides of roads.  Curly dock is the same, it loves willow trees.  I have some popping up in my yard unexpectedly.  Then there is burdock.  They will all work the same.  Burdock has those annoying round burrs.  I harvested mine before their growth.  I planted seeds in the spring and had a beautiful crop.  The roots won’t let you pull them completely which assures that you will have some more next year.  Perennials are a beautiful thing and this perennial could save your life.

Docks have pretty amazing blood cleansing abilities.  They are used to detoxify the body and to kill cancer.  Their long tap roots are eaten in many cultures.  Just chop them up like carrots or parsnips.  They are also available in the health food store at times in the produce section.

The leaves of the burdock are green which tells us that it is specific to organs as well.  They are very nutritious and will make a lovely tea to help cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys as well as the entire lymphatic system.  I dried mine in a large box because they were so huge.

You can add both leaves and roots to a canning jar with rum, vodka, brandy, etc. and let brew for four weeks but don’t strain it as you want it as strong as possible.  Put one teaspoon in a shot glass of orange juice to take in the mornings as an immunity booster and preventative.  Enjoy the tea with other green herbs like mint and lemon verbena.

20171017_171507Rose Hips contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit and are specific to Arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory.  They contain anthocyanins for heart health and the prevention of cancers.  We harvested a lot of roses off of nearly-hundred-year old bushes during the year.  I always leave some of the roses.  One, they look beautiful, and two, they will produce hips which contain their seeds and are a delicious fruit.  These can be dried in paper bags and used in extracts or teas.  Or for fun they make a lovely jelly or liqueur.  They take down swelling quickly and taste delicious.

The third medicinal plant is the humble onion.  The onion contains over 150 phytochemicals, quercetin (anti-inflammatory and pain reliever), and saponin (soap to help clean the organs and blood) and is anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and kills the flu quick.  Forget chicken soup, if the household is coming down with colds or flu make French onion soup with lots of onions and garlic!

These three autumn plants will keep you healthy, strong, and feeling your best to take on the winter days ahead.

If you prefer to use plant medicines already made you can do so by ordering from my website http://whitewolfherbs.com.  My daughter and I handcraft powerful medicines that we know will work!  You can find the burdock in our Detox and rose hips in our Arthritis.  Thanks for supporting traditional herbalists!

How to Make this Season’s Strongest Antibiotic

oregon grape

I often tell my students that the most frustrating, the most difficult part of being an herbalist is not being asked for help.  I see on Facebook cousins who are always sick, cousins going in for surgery, people in pain, friends under some constant barrage of bacterial infection.  With bottles of incredibly effective medicines at the ready, I wait.  And wait.  People just don’t know how amazing real plant medicine made by real herbalists can be.  I may not be able to help everyone but I can teach you how to help yourself.  What if I told you that this winter you would be blissfully cold and flu free?  Bacterial infections cannot stand up against this antibiotic either so it is a really great medicine to keep in your cupboard!

There are lots of places you can purchase the herbs.  I highly recommend that you plant what you can.  We would be wise to be more sustainable as herbalists.  Until then you can purchase dried, ready to go herbs from reputable companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, Penn Herb Company, Frontier Herbs and many others online.

echinacea

In a canning jar combine 3 Tablespoons of Oregon Grape Root, 2 Tablespoons of Echinacea, 1 clove of garlic (just one, trust me), 2 Tablespoons of Mint, 1 Tablespoon of Juniper Berries, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of turmeric.  Everything but the garlic is dried in this recipe.  Fill 3/4 full with vodka.  Add a few dried apples or plums for flavor and more cold fighting antioxidants then fill rest of jar with honey.  Place in sunny spot for a month.  Shake the jar when you notice it.  Do not strain.

Take 1 teaspoon if you feel like you are getting sick.  Take 1-2 teaspoons 4x a day for a full blown infection or illness.  Halve the dosage for children.  Omit the juniper berries if you are in the early part of your pregnancy. This concoction’s shelf life is forever.

Now that we know we won’t be wasting any time getting sick this season, we can start planning things we want to do, like weaving and cheese making and candle making, and soap making, and…

(If you don’t make your own you can always order some of our incredibly effective White Wolf Medicine Antibiotic at http://whitewolfherbs.com.  Thanks for supporting your working herbalists!)

 

Become a Plant Medicine Healer Today

 

sacred-owl-cards-june-2015I have a great love of plants and plant medicines, as you know if you have been reading my blog or know me.  I have been teaching these arts for many years.  I am no longer teaching the three month course from my shop but I am still teaching through my correspondence course.

shy

I have written the text book so that it is easy to comprehend, retain, and organize the information and use it in your day to day work.  It helps you understand the complete world of herbalism, from wild crafting, to extracting, to compounding, and knowing what to do for any ailment.  It is a life changer, folks, that is all I can say.  When you are empowered with the knowledge of herbs and their healing powers, fear slips away.  A broken bone?  Two weeks healed.  Cancer?  One to six months with plants.  Really?  Yes.  Strep throat?  Twelve hours.

gather

My book takes you step by step and makes you a Certified Herbalist, ready and armed with knowledge to heal yourself and your community.  Is this the year you take on that gift?  If so, I am running a special on my course.  Only $250 and you will receive the entire Certified Herbalist Correspondence Course, plus two free gifts.  You will receive the starter herbs to make your first assignment and a free Spiritual Plant Medicine class.

Jpeg

http://whitewolfherbs.com/products/correspondence-course to order.  I would be honored for you to study with me.

Tree Medicine (how to decoct pain medicine)

My husband and I are reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon together.  It has been recommended to me no less than a dozen times.  With our love of history, Celts, and plant medicines, it is no wonder.  We are enjoying it immensely.  However, I did find an error on page 116.

willow

It states that willow bark has salicylic acid in it which aspirin contains.  Wrong.  Willow bark contains salicin.  There’s not a smidge of willow left in aspirin.  When a plant cannot be patented (therefore not much money made) researchers, scientists, and the like take it to a lab to isolate the constituent that they feel is the reason it works.  Once you isolate a derivative you have a lab created version of the plant.  This happens in about every case of pharmaceuticals.  I know we have romanticized the idea of taking plants from the rainforest for their cancer fighting abilities.  You see, the problem is though, that if you change the constituent, you change the entire identity and spirit of the plant.  In short, you get side effects.  The plant in its natural state is the only way to obtain complete healing.  Salicylic acid is the lab created version of willow.  It causes stomach problems and bleeding issues but salicin does not.  There are no side effects to willow or the other trees that contain salicin. They are perfect medicine.

cotton

Anyways, off my podium.  We were hiking around beautiful lagoons yesterday.  My goodness it was a lovely day.  Not a soul around.  The sky blue like autumn, no clouds, the sea was a color that I have never seen.  Much like the Caribbean sea but with deep hints of celadon.  The breeze was warm and inviting as we crossed the shale to the water.  There in the water stood, with their feet gaily drenched, cottonwoods enjoying the warm day.  A branch had just recently been sawed off, for the pulp shavings of the branch were still fresh and I gathered them into my sweater.  Cottonwood is also an analgesic, like its friends the willow and poplar.

cottonwood

When gathering wood for medicine a downed branch is always nice because you are not affecting the tree at all.  Simply pull the outer layer off with a knife until you get to the pulp.  Shave this onto a blanket.  You will reach the impenetrable core which can be used as firewood.  The shavings can be prepared fresh or dried in a paper bag until need arises.

You will decoct tree medicines.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  A handful per quart or a full pinch per cup if it is quite fine and then only boil 5 minutes or so.  The salicin content makes it taste a bit chalky.  You can add 1 part chamomile, poppies, St. John’s Wort, lemon balm, or mint to strengthen or make tastier your medicine.

We have beautiful medicines at our shop and online at http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com should you like a lovely blend of our quite potent medicines.

Trees are such lovely creatures.  I am thankful for their medicine.

 

Featherheart Finds Medicine

IMG_5014

In Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, she refers to ideas as actual entities of their own and goes on to explain the real magic in that.  One poet talked about when an idea started coming she would run like heck to the kitchen to get paper and pen, sometimes even writing the poem backwards and capturing it “by the tail”.  I know this feeling.  And sitting in a classroom at an old hotel on the top of a mountain in Cloudcroft, New Mexico listening to a lecture on herbs, I found myself grabbing my notebook and not hearing another word from the class.  I wrote a children’s book with feverish intensity.  I needed very little editing and when I got home my daughter, Emily, agreed to do water color paintings for the book.

What resulted was a beautiful children’s book that leads the child on an adventure with Featherheart to her Grammie’s house.  As she and her Grammie head out into the morning with their baskets they meet plants (and learn their identification and properties) and birds and other creatures.  The book whimsically teaches while entertaining and the adult reading will learn as well.

IMG_5016

The book is printed in a sturdy calendar format with big pictures and easy print.  I hope you will let me share with you my work.  For blog readers it is only $10.  Call to order 303-617-3370 or email Katie@pumpkinhollowfarm.net.  And as always, thank you so much for reading.